Across the country, crashes caused by wrong-way drivers are few, but when they do occur, they often provide heartbreaking headlines, much like what I read on WJHG’s website Tuesday morning.
Channel 7 out of Panama City reports that a Panama City Beach woman is dead after a crash involving a scooter and a van early Tuesday morning. Police responded to the incident on Middle Beach Rd. near Camelia St. around 1:15 a.m. A 22 year old female was driving east on Middle Beach Rd. on a family-owned scooter, when she crossed into the westbound lanes into the path of the van. Authorities say the female died instantly. The driver of the van was not hurt.
FHP records show more than 1,568 wrong-way crashes statewide in 2015. Almost all the crashes involved injuries and 92 were deadly. Many of the deadly crashes involved multiple fatalities.
Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation said they’ve made preventing these crashes their top priority. “If we can raise some awareness and stop the wrong-way driving or the intoxicated drivers, we can cut down on these fatalities, then it benefits everyone,” said Trooper Brent Gump of FHP Troop G. “That’s why we’re out there.”
What to do if you encounter a wrong-way driver
1. Swerve to the right -When trying to avoid a wrong way driver, swerve to the right. Many of the wrong-way drivers get on the freeways and immediately go all the way to the right side of the freeway, or the fast lane, because they think it is the slow lane. And because they are most likely impaired, they don’t want to get pulled over for speeding.
2. Heads up – Look up, look ahead, and scan the freeway. People tend to look no further than a couple of hundred feet ahead of them. You can easily look ahead at least a quarter of a mile during light traffic and give yourself time to see the danger coming.
3. Show your intentions – There are three common reasons why people drive on the wrong-side of the road: driving under the influence of an impairing substance like alcohol or sleeping pills, inexperience and lack of mental alertness. In each of these cases, if you have the time, try to be as clear as possible with your signal lights as to your intentions.
4. Buckle-up & look out for the safety of others – The majority of crashes involving wrong way drivers re head on collisions and side-swipes. In these types of crashes, the difference between whether you survive and the extent to which you escape severe injury depends considerable on if you are wearing your seatbelt. If you have a cell phone in your car (and you should), pull over as soon as possible after avoiding the wrong-way driver and call 911 to report the situation. Give the dispatcher the license plate number, a description of the vehicle, and location and direction of travel.
5. Quick! What color are reflectors on the road? – Did you answer white or yellow? That’s good, it means you’re driving the correct direction on the road. A lot of road reflectors used currently are duel colored, white on one side and red on the other. Most people don’t know this though, as they rarely are on the wrong side of the road. So, if you are seeing red reflectors on the road, it’s you who is on the wrong side; stop and turn around.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, seek help from the professionals at Brannon & Brannon.